Learning all about your client’s business is good business
How many different languages do you speak?
A life in advertising can force you to learn, or at the very least, form a basic understanding of industries, businesses and products you never thought you’d know anything about. At times it feels like a flashback to high school, learning how to communicate in a strange language. Artificial disc replacement, haptic sensors, hydrocolloid solutions: every client has their lingo and jargon, and it’s up to you to sound like a native speaker.
Nobody is asking for my advice, but too bad: Here’s why you should become fluent in your client’s tongue.
Be the Oracle (It’s job security)
Doing or knowing something no one else does or knows is a smart way to keep yourself employed. I’m not talking about being standoffish or withholding; I’m talking about being THE person who can talk easily and passionately about a client’s business better than anyone else. Strive to be the go-to person. Don’t close your eyes and throw around a few big words in hopes you’re using them the correctly. Understand what they mean and apply them with a deft touch.
Let Your Client Love You (It builds trust)
Ever talk to a client about their product and get the details wrong? Gah! Have you no shame? It’s embarrassing for you, your team and your agency. And your client is wondering how seriously you’re taking their account. When you talk your client’s talk, they feel like you’ve either been listening or doing some research. Or better yet, both. And more importantly, you’re letting them know they can trust you. It’s what lasting relationships are made of. Aww.
Do or Die (It’s necessary)
Let’s face it: your life depends on it. Or at least your career does. You want to do great work, right? The best stuff relies on insights about your audience and their relationship with your client’s brand and products. Learn about it. Dig in. Figure out what’s so interesting about their widget. Be curious. Be a student. After all, it’s your job to simplify the complex. Understanding your client’s world makes that easier to do.
Learning a foreign language can be eye-opening, challenging, enlightening, flummoxing and rewarding, in no particular order. Personally, it has been the coolest aspect of my career. When a new client enters your life—or vice versa—you might run into some hurdles. But before long, you’ll see them coming and be able to clear them without breaking a sweat. Also, tripping over hurdles makes you look silly.